Hi all, apologies for the recent radio silence, but we have been super busy.
Anyway, here is a lesson using a model answer to an IELTS part two writing task. It is pitched at between a 7 and an 8 in case students are interested. It contains a section on brainstorming and planning, before a little on vocabulary and grammar. Where this is perhaps different is that it then examines how this would be different if it were written for university. This is not an EAP lesson, what it seeks to do is to raise the awareness of the students for what may be needed.
Aim: Provide a good model answer for IELTS and to raise awareness of what will be needed at University
Speaking: This is just to get them thinking about the topic. Put the students in pairs or small groups.
1 The aim here is to help with brainstorming ideas and also moving them onto thinking about whether these are good or bad changes. This is helpful in a ‘to what extent’ essay, but will also be very important at university where they will need a position.
2 Here you are just asking them to further extend what they saw in 1a.
3 Skimming practice – a) Give students the model answer and ask them to read and check whether the writer used the same ideas that they came up with. b) ask them to try to evaluate the essay, is it good / bad and ask them to justify. Give them 4 minutes to read it in detail and then put them into pairs or groups to discuss it. They should decide it is a pretty good essay – good vocab / well linked and so flows / some higher level grammar.
1. a) The aim here is to build synonyms – make sure students focus on and record the prepositions here. If they don’t, they will be unable to use the vocabulary in their own writing.
- changing quickly –> progressing rapidly
- will have a negative effect on –> will be detrimental to
- do not talk to –> lack interaction with
- ignores –> overlooks
- decrease in the number of people who work –> shrinking of the workforce
- is dangerous to –> could pose a threat
- gives us a chance to –> presents an opportunity to
b) This focuses students on the difference in register. These words are more formal, less general and therefore will result in better scores.
2. This is all about reinforcing the chunks of language and checking that they are using them correctly as well as giving a chance for students to personalise. While the students write their sentences, monitor and offer help and encouragement. When they have finished do all class feedback and board some of the examples.
N.B. It is worth focusing a little on the pronunciation of these words too as they would be suitable for part 3 speaking.
This essay talks about changes in the past twenty years so the writer has used present perfect to talk about the changes. This section aims to focus on specific grammar usage and ask students to analyse it.
1 Ask students to look at the example sentence and work alone to answer the questions. Then put them into pairs to check before all class feedback.
- present perfect
- The question talks about the last 20 yrs, this allows us to talk about a change that happened in that time and which may not have stopped or which still has impact.
- paragraph 2 – this overlooks the huge change that these screens have made to the lives of millions. paragraph 3 – As well as the communication change, people often complain of the increase in automation that machines have brought.
- present simple – this is standard in essays.
2 This looks at hedging* and the use of could.
- b is softer and a more defensible position academically so better in an essay. Could is used to hedge the sentence or position.
- possible answers – may / might / can (depending one tense) / it is possible that etc
- They make your writing more academic – soften the position and demonstrate a considered argument.
- possible answer – technology may make life easier
*Hedging is the use of modals or phrases to lessen the impact of a sentence, or to soften. It is common in academic writing.
An essay at University
This section is focused on raising students awareness of how the IELTS exam does and doesn’t prepare them for university.
It starts by asking them what they think is required. This is interesting as some have an idea, some clearly have very little idea. Both are fine, it is good to know where they are.
As an answer, the essay is not suitable – too short – most university essays will be in the 1000s not 100s, not cited, no real thesis position. Areas where it is suitable would be the academic style, cohesion.
1 They are different as the new example takes a position. It tells the reader what the essay is going to argue – This is the thesis statement and students need to be aware that for most essays, this will be a key part. IELTS essays can contain them and it is a good habit to encourage.
2 Ask them to read and then work in pairs. Then do class feedback. They will notice the citations, these are in the Harvard style. They will also hopefully notice the concluding sentence which provides a link to the thesis position. try to elicit this from them.
3 This exercise examines what they do and don’t know about citations
- True – they can do, but this is not the prime reason for using them
- True – you need to base your argument on the research and arguments of others, but blend it together to create something new.
- False – if you do this, your essay will contain no synthesis (blending of sources)
- False – paraphrasing is very important
- False – most have never had to use them before, or if they have they may not have used the same system.
The big thing here is highlighting that they exist. The students do not need them for IELTS but they will need them after.
4 Ask the students to turn their ideas into full sentences.
The positions are limitless in a sense but could include:
- This essay will argue that technology is having an adverse effect on society.
- This essay will argue that the impact of technology is mixed and that though some areas are negatively effected others benefit
- This essay will argue that it depends on which technology
Ask the students what they feel the differences are between university in their country and the UK, and also how IELTS fits into this. encourage them to reflect on how to use what they learn in IELTS classes at uni, but not to think this is the end of the journey.
Ask the students to write the essay using one of the thesis positions that they wrote in exercise 4. Remind them that it is a good idea to get used to taking a position. Also remind them that each paragraph should have a conclusion that links to the overall position. It is not ok just to get to the conclusion and present your ideas like a magician revealing the answer.